Petroglyphs are similar to the much older cave paintings, still a form of communication prior to the development of speech. However the term ‘Petroglygh’ refers only to rock carvings created around 30 000BC – 1000/500BC, and have been found in many cultures across the world. Pictograms are the semi-symbolic shapes often found in the Petroglyphs. Symbols may represent an idea, a physical entity or a process, but the image will often seem obscure and abstract from it.An example of the more abstract Pictograms is the Rinconada Star Being. It could be marking territory, a recording of a historical event or a story.Most likely it is a religious entity; however without more knowledge of the symbolic language, we have no way of knowing for certain.

Image Rinconada Star Being

The Rinconada Canyon, where this symbol is found, offers a rich variety of Pictograms. It is understood that the orientation of the symbol to the surrounding images, the landscape and even the horizon is important – certainly it is no accident that the Pictograms are in alignment with the five Albuquerque volcanoes. Because of this in particular, the indigenous Pueblo Indians believe that this is a spiritual place, where messages are conveyed between the spirits of their ancestors and the living – the symbols may choose not to reveal themselves to everyone. They still hold religious ceremonies, collect medicinal herbs and give thanks at this site. They even use the Pictograms to teach the children about the history and culture of the tribe.

Bibliography

http://www.nps.gov/petr/historyculture/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/petr/planyourvisit/rincon.htm

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